For some kids, life is REALLY bad

Being a CASA volunteer a few years ago, and for the last two years working with foster children has opened my eyes to the reality that some children in our society face. I had no idea how bad it really gets for some. We should not be burying our heads in the sand.

Has anyone read A Child Called “It”? It was required in the CASA training as a sort of “welcome to the field, read this to prove you have some empathy” test. An acquaintance of mine wrote a critical review of the book a while back. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it really shows how many of us are completely unaware of what the lives of many children are like. Here is part of what she said:

“I classify this under non-fiction with tongue in cheek. The author claims it is the truth, but that’s been called into question by the media and literary groups, and pretty much anyone reading it would have a hard time believing all the things happened which the author claims.”

Whether or not the book is factual is really not the point. The author may very well have fabricated or sensationalized his early life in order to make a profit. Who knows? The point is that while the stuff that the boy’s mother inflicts on him in the book is not a pretty sight (mostly emotional and some physical abuse), his story is not abnormal for the foster care field, and probably anyone I have worked with for the last two years could offer you a dozen case examples that were more horrific than that of the boy in the book.

Yes, perhaps “pretty much anyone reading” the book “would have a hard time believing all the things happened.” I agree. It is hard to believe, until you realize they are really happening.
Not everyone is cut out to work in the foster care field–I’ve only been doing it part-time for two years, and have probably had enough. If you know any foster parents (who are not just doing it for the money) or counselors who work with children and trauma, they deserve your upmost admiration and respect. In terms of deserving praise on a national scale, they should be on par with the military.

About shenpa warrior

"Patience is not learned in safety." View all posts by shenpa warrior

7 responses to “For some kids, life is REALLY bad

  • Salt H2O

    I’ve considered volunteering for CASA but I decided I don’t have the emotional fortitude- good for you for stepping up to the plate.

    It’s our plan to become foster parents once our own children grow up. I’ve heard too many horror stories about families that have taken in foster children and the kids have ended up being a bad influence on their own children. I believe every child deserves a shot at life, but I can’t risk my own children in the process.

    So the only conclusion I could come to is that once our kids are in their early teens we’ll start taking in kids that are toddlers.

  • Deanne Hill

    I used to volunteer Child Haven (that has since shut down due to funding issues) that took in foster children. It was one of the most profound and heart-breaking experiences of my life.
    The people who are able to be foster parents are worthy of the respect and admiration you call for. It is a tough job.
    I have considered being a foster parent, but don’t think I have the chops. So many of these children have issues that I don’t think I’m equiped to deal with, but I am certainly grateful that there are people who do.
    Thanks for the post.

  • natalie

    I remember flipping through your copy of “A Child Called ‘It'”. It really was a mind-bending moment considering how horrible it is for even one child in the history of the world to endure anything like that.

  • Allie

    I did a year-long internship with a guardian ad litem lawyer, and in Logan, the CASA coordinator worked out of the same office- I was horrified by some of the things children go through. I can see why people would have a hard time believing things like that really happen.

    It’s a problem for so many people who seem to view everyone else’s lives through the filter of their own experience. Of course their parents wouldn’t have fed them medicine coctails, or groomed them to be sexual partners, or threw lighted matches at them or burned them with cigarettes, so it’s hard to comprehend that anyone’s parents could do such things.

    I’ve thought about being a foster parent- but like SaltH2O, I could only take kids who were very young, once my kids are older.

  • adamf

    Salt, that sounds like a good idea. I definitely believe in taking care of one’s own children first, otherwise we’d just add to the burden on society. One of my clients has been in a home for the last 4-5 years or so and there is a younger biological kid there too, but the dad stays home full-time, and he has to run a VERY tight ship.

    Deanne, I know what you are saying. It is really hard—especially at first. All kinds of stuff to work through, like shock, then extreme anger, then depression/sadness, and then you can finally work!

    More foster parents are definitely needed, but I agree, it is not an easy job. I’m not sure if I could to it. Maybe when my children are grown. The tricky balance about is you have to be about an inch away from crazy yourself to be willing, but not TOO dysfunctional.

    nat: flipping through it is probably enough. I was in tears through most of it, but in a way it helped to read it before I started working because it lessened the shock a little when I read through the client’s file. Hurray for good parents! There are a lot of them, thank goodness.

    allie, Maybe it’s a blessing for some to not even have to consider the realities here… I thought about being a Guardian for a while when I was considering law school. That’s out now, but it is a really important job. They also have caseloads of hundreds of kids (often double or triple of what they can actually do), and don’t make enough. Those are government workers that do indeed work very hard.

  • George

    You don’t have to venture into foster care, just drive across town and become a scoutmaster in a Spanish Branch of the LDS Church and discover what the Latino kids go through at times.

  • adamf

    You’re right. There are a lot of things that go on around us that many of us are oblivious to.

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